An oil worker from Belfast arrived safely to London's Gatwick Airport on Thursday afternoon. He told the media how he defied the Foreign Office's advice to “stay put” and joined the thousands of people trying to flee.
Stephen Willoughby is now safely home from Tripoli with his wife and child as 70 Irish people remain trapped in Libya, with the Irish Air Corps waiting for an opportunity to retrieve them in nearby Malta.
Willoughby told Ulster Television news (UTV) about his escape from Libya.
“People with machine guns, trucks with big machine guns, at night time there's guys walking the streets with machetes, constant gunfire, constant gunfire,” he said.
He said that they had no choice but to leave. He said, "We were on our own, and it was up to ourselves to get out of there…We were told to stay put but we didn't, we just got out. It was just time to leave.
"Help from the Foreign Office has been very weak, because I don't think they know anything either.
"It's been horrific, to be honest. Today...yesterday was pretty bad at the airport. Thousands and thousands just trying to get home."
Unrest continues in Libya surrounding its leader Muammar Gaddafi. It's believed that several hundred people have died as Gaddafi clings to power.
It is believed that there are 70 Irish people living in Libya. On Wednesday evening the an Irish aircraft was sent to rescue the Irish citizens, but the plane was forced to leave without its passengers. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said the local security forces had prevented the Irish team from picking their passengers up.
The Irish government has now said that they are working with their EU counterparts to ensure that those with Irish passports will be given spaces on commercial flights out of the country. An emergency assistance team of six people has also been deployed to Tripoli while the Air Corps plane still awaits permission to land in Libya.
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